The 4 types of learners—and how to know which you are


The 4 types of students and how to know who you are

Rear view of students listening in a lecture hall

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to learn things faster than others? It may not be about being smarter, it could simply mean that they process and learn information differently. Determined to help demystify the learning process, Neil Fleming and Colleen Mills, academics at Lincoln University of New Zealand in Canterbury, delved into the different ways people approach learning. They developed the VARK model based on their claim that “students of all ages have different but consistent ways of responding in learning situations”.

The VARK model stands for visual, auditory, reading and writing and kinesthetic learning styles. Neurolinguistic programming, or NLP, was the key to Fleming and Mill’s research. Sometimes described as the “manual for your mind”, NLP has also been characterized by the Association for Neuro Linguistic Programming as a combination of theories, models and techniques that can be used strategically to improve learning outcomes. .

It is important to note that not all educators accept the idea of ​​learning styles, be they VARK or other forms, as a proven teaching technique. Many educators also believe that people can build and reinforce different types of learning styles, even though they may not come naturally at first.

From Fleming and Mill’s point of view, using the VARK model to understand learning styles would allow people to adapt their behavior to different learning environments. A recent example of such an environment occurred during the height of the coronavirus pandemic: distance learning. This form of distance learning, which usually involves listening to lectures via video calls, could talk about certain styles such as auditory or visual learners. But for others, additional material may be needed to get the information to stick. Keeping online learning varied, relevant, and engaging can keep students tuned into the classroom.

What’s your VARK style? Citing the VARK model, Tovuti LMS outlined the four main types of learning styles of the learning model.



The eye of a man looking directly into the camera

Most of the students are visual or spatial learners. Visual learners connect well with models, shapes, charts, maps, and diagrams. Creating a visual picture of what you are trying to learn is one way to retain this information. Think of this type of learning as exchanging words with visual elements. For example, explaining the difference between a pint and a gallon with pictures of different water jugs can more clearly illustrate how much each jar can hold.

However, not all visuals are created equal for this type of learner. Videos or movies, PowerPoint and photos aren’t enough for some. Using tools like a flowchart can also help visual learners grasp more abstract concepts, according to insight from Bay Atlantic University in Washington DC.

How do you recognize a visual learner in the workplace? In an article for Inc., Molly St. Louis states that these are the people in meetings often seen scribbling or taking notes or thriving on whiteboard discussions.



A woman listening with her eyes closed

According to the VARK model, auditory students make up a smaller population than visual students. These students retain details through auditory modalities, including listening to live or recorded lectures, participating in group discussions, and listening to information via radio, audiobooks, and podcasts. Auditory students often read aloud or create songs as ways to memorize materials when studying for tests. Auditory students generally find strengths in storytelling and public speaking.

How to know if your colleague is an auditory student? Typically, they are the ones who ask questions and brainstorm at meetings.


Reading and writing

A woman’s hand writing in a notebook

The “R” in VARK refers to reading and writing, specifically text-based input and output. Textbooks, manuals, handouts, lists, PowerPoint presentations, and note taking are the preferred ways for students to read and write.

These students generally gravitate towards information by reading, similar to how auditory students retain information through listening. Written assignments are those at which these students excel, communicating thoughts effectively through email or direct messages. Bay Atlantic University suggests that “text is more powerful than any kind of visual or auditory representation of an idea” for these students.



Hands on the handlebars of a bicycle

Not familiar with the term kinesthetic? VARK-Learn describes this modality as the “perceptual preference relative to the use of experience and practice (simulated or real).” Think hands-on learning. Only a small portion of the population is kinesthetic or experiential learner.

Kinesthetic students acquire information by performing the task they are learning about. Movement and muscle memory are also critical for kinesthetic students. For example, when learning to ride a bicycle, physical movements become innate after a lot of practice. When conveying information to a kinesthetic student, consider using examples, simulations, and recreation of experiences.

Contrary to popular belief, kinesthetic students are not just restless who have a hard time staying still. Usually high-energy workers – students ready to dive into challenges that require “do” and go out in the field – such as arranging cafe meetings with clients and colleagues to work out the finer details.

This story originally appeared on Tovuti LMS and was produced and
distributed in collaboration with Stacker Studio.

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